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User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design are essential components of our holistic design process. Together they define how a user likes a product or service. While UX and UI are sometimes used interchangeably, they are different. The “UI” is the graphical design of a product that showcases the look and feel of the product or service. It consists of the buttons users click on, the text a user reads, the images, sliders, text entry fields, and other items the user interacts with. The “UX” is a user’s experience of the product or service, which is determined by how they interact with it. User experience is determined by how easy or difficult it is to interact with the product or service, and how it makes a user feel about themselves.

RKS is a comprehensive design, research, and innovation firm. Our quantitative and qualitative approach to user experience and user interface design and implementation is fueled by not only how products make customers feel, but how it makes them feel about themselves. Whether creating research for new products and services or existings ones, we believe carefully designed UI and UX is a cornerstone to creating great products. Our designers use our advanced Psycho-Aesthetic process to solve complex problems that address design, engineering, brand, and regulatory issues. Our cross-disciplinary specialists, researchers, designers, and engineers leverage their deep experience within multiple industries and technologies to spark creative and innovative solutions.

Our Clients

Research

Research for UI and UX is a multi-step process that combines exploratory research and concept testing research. Exploratory research is conducted at the start of the design process to help designers understand the end user’s needs and goals. Exploratory research gives our designers enough data to begin designing a prototype. Our designers then use concept testing research to test the prototype with real users. Both types of research use primary and secondary research. The most effective way to understand how users expect and need to interface with the product is through primary research that may include ethnography or simple observations. Secondary research through text and visual data are important as well, as it can explain context, justify design choices, and reinforce data from primary research.

P/A Psycho Aesthetics

Psycho Aesthetics (P/A) is our unique approach to design thinking. Over the decades spent developing and evolving P/A, it has continuously progressed into a highly advanced design-thinking tool and framework that allows designers to create shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approaches to everything from research and design, to name development, mission and vision statements, and more. It provides an open design framework under which the key understandings of mapping onto a consistent framework combine with the creation of a “hero’s journey” for all stakeholders, from consumers to members of our own teams. P/A is a universal design tool and framework that is only limited by individuals’ openness to working within frameworks and their own talents. Combined with “design doing,” success is exponentially advanced when created through this framework.

Exploratory Research

Our designers conduct exploratory research to understand the user’s needs and goals at the beginning of the process. Exploratory research begins with a design hypothesis, which our designers validate with the intended user base. Our designers validate our hypothesis by running experiments. In most cases our initial hypothesis is incorrect, but in the process of disproving it our designers collect valuable feedback. This valuable feedback is then incorporated into another test. By proposing and validating hypotheses over and over our designers are able to build a prototype and move to concept testing research. Some of the ways our designers validate our hypothesis are conducting interviews and surveys, organizing focus groups, conducting usability tests, and running various A/B tests. In the end, exploratory research should give our designers enough data to begin designing a solution.

Concept Testing Research

Once we have a prototype our designers use concept testing research to test that solution with real users. The goal of this research is to help

designers gather feedback that allows them to improve the UX. There are two main functions of concept testing research. It helps us make a judgment regarding the efficacy of the UX once it’s complete. It also helps us evaluate the UX and improvement (i.e., detecting and eliminating usability problems) during the development process. The purpose of concept testing research is to gather feedback from users regarding the design process. Ultimately, concept testing research allows us to move to production using qualitative and quantitative justifications for our design decisions.

Primary Research Methods

The purpose of primary research is to validate design ideas and concepts early on in the design process. The data our designers collect from primary research allows us to design meaningful, user-centered solutions. Our designers utilize a variety of primary research methods that include interviews, focus groups, and usability testing. Our designers conduct both direct interviews and indirect interviews. Direct interviews are simple question-answer format while indirect interviews are set up in a more conversational style. Focus groups are more structured, group interviews where a moderator guides the discussion. Usability tests are useful for concept testing research, once we have a working prototype. In usability tests we define user goals and turn them into realistic task scenarios that the test participants would have to complete using our prototype.

Secondary Research Methods

The purpose of secondary research is often to supplement primary research. For secondary research our designers use existing books, articles, or research material to validate your design ideas and concepts or support your primary research. Often we work with our clients to understand and structure some of the client’s internal data, such as company’s files, databases and project reports. These are especially useful because they help us understand previous user behavior, and industry context, such as the industry’s general consensus, standards and conventions.

Research

Research for UI and UX is a multi-step process that combines exploratory research and concept testing research. Exploratory research is conducted at the start of the design process to help designers understand the end user’s needs and goals. Exploratory research gives our designers enough data to begin designing a prototype. Our designers then use concept testing research to test the prototype with real users. Both types of research use primary and secondary research. The most effective way to understand how users expect and need to interface with the product is through primary research that may include ethnography or simple observations. Secondary research through text and visual data are important as well, as it can explain context, justify design choices, and reinforce data from primary research.

P/A Psycho Aesthetics

Psycho Aesthetics (P/A) is our unique approach to design thinking. Over the decades spent developing and evolving P/A, it has continuously progressed into a highly advanced design-thinking tool and framework that allows designers to create shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approaches to everything from research and design, to name development, mission and vision statements, and more. It provides an open design framework under which the key understandings of mapping onto a consistent framework combine with the creation of a “hero’s journey” for all stakeholders, from consumers to members of our own teams. P/A is a universal design tool and framework that is only limited by individuals’ openness to working within frameworks and their own talents. Combined with “design doing,” success is exponentially advanced when created through this framework.

Exploratory Research

Our designers conduct exploratory research to understand the user’s needs and goals at the beginning of the process. Exploratory research begins with a design hypothesis, which our designers validate with the intended user base. Our designers validate our hypothesis by running experiments. In most cases our initial hypothesis is incorrect, but in the process of disproving it our designers collect valuable feedback. This valuable feedback is then incorporated into another test. By proposing and validating hypotheses over and over our designers are able to build a prototype and move to concept testing research. Some of the ways our designers validate our hypothesis are conducting interviews and surveys, organizing focus groups, conducting usability tests, and running various A/B tests. In the end, exploratory research should give our designers enough data to begin designing a solution.

Concept Testing Research

Once we have a prototype our designers use concept testing research to test that solution with real users. The goal of this research is to help designers gather feedback that allows them to improve the UX. There are two main functions of concept testing research. It helps us make a judgment regarding the efficacy of the UX once it’s complete. It also helps us evaluate the UX and improvement (i.e., detecting and eliminating usability problems) during the development process. The purpose of concept testing research is to gather feedback from users regarding the design process. Ultimately, concept testing research allows us to move to production using qualitative and quantitative justifications for our design decisions.

Primary Research Methods

The purpose of primary research is to validate design ideas and concepts early on in the design process. The data our designers collect from primary research allows us to design meaningful, user-centered solutions. Our designers utilize a variety of primary research methods that include interviews, focus groups, and usability testing. Our designers conduct both direct interviews and indirect interviews. Direct interviews are simple question-answer format while indirect interviews are set up in a more conversational style. Focus groups are more structured, group interviews where a moderator guides the discussion. Usability tests are useful for concept testing research, once we have a working prototype. In usability tests we define user goals and turn them into realistic task scenarios that the test participants would have to complete using our prototype.

Secondary Research Methods

The purpose of secondary research is often to supplement primary research. For secondary research our designers use existing books, articles, or research material to validate your design ideas and concepts or support your primary research. Often we work with our clients to understand and structure some of the client’s internal data, such as company’s files, databases and project reports. These are especially useful because they help us understand previous user behavior, and industry context, such as the industry’s general consensus, standards and conventions.

RKS designers working on UX and UI

Design Process

While UI design is focused on the surface and overall feel of a design, UX encompasses the entire spectrum of the UX. A UI should be aligned with the UX and both should be aligned to the qualitative and quantitative insights derived from the research. The task of implementing a UI is a highly visual one. Decisions are made about where buttons should be closed, colors should be used, and text should appear. UX on the other hand, goes beyond UI and considers the entire product or service holistically. Through our UX design we answer questions about whether product design choices solve a users needs. The UI is an important component of this consideration, and is a significant level that we rely on to make the UX of a product or service successful.

UI Design

User interfaces encompass the aesthetic design of all visual elements of a product’s presentation and interactivity. This design should be highly usable and efficient. At the same time, the user interface (UI) should be an emotional experience – users should feel empowered. Our responsibility is to architect both the aesthetics and the emotional connection. This connection is created effectively when users immerse themselves in the product or service. The less users notice they must use controls, the more they’ll immerse themselves. Ultimately, a user interface should obfuscate itself – it will successfully create the illusion that a user is simply trying to attain their goals as effortlessly as possible, as opposed to interacting with a device.

User interfaces are traditionally made of various controls and components. Input Controls allow uses to add information. These controls can be buttons, text fields, checkboxes, radio buttons, dropdown lists, list boxes, toggles, even a date field. Navigational Components help a user move around the UI. These types of interactions can be breadcrumbs, slider, search field, pagination, slider, tags, and icons. Informational Components equip users to deal with unfamiliar input controls and navigation components and include tooltips, icons, progress bar, notifications, message boxes, and modal window. With so many options for elements, the hardest part of designing a UI is deciding what not to include.

UX Design

UX is the totality of how a user responds to a product or service. It encompases a user’s emotions and attitudes, and how they feel about themselves when using it. Good UX design begins when our UX designer understands fully what the product or service must do and how it will achieve the best results possible. This type of understanding comes from

well-designed and executed research. Getting UX right usually means that the experience is smooth and intuitive, and logical. It gives users the sense that they’re efficiently accomplishing the tasks they set out to achieve. Because it’s so hard to get it right, good UX is the ultimate competitive advantage.

UX design is built on a foundation of five main components: Strategy, Scope, Structure, and Skeleton. Each component builds on the previous component. This makes changing components costly. At the same time, as new information is learned in the process flexibility is often necessary to create the right experience. This type of opposing relationship defines the complexities of UX design. During the Strategy component we translate user & business needs to requirements for content & functionality. During the Scoping we define the functional and content requirements. Our Scoping is then given Structure when we define the ways of interaction. During the Skeleton component we begin to conceptualize these interactions. The result of this process is a UX that comes close to the final product or service.

Iterative Design Process

UX and UI design is often an iterative process, which can be challenging. A designer will work with engineers and clients in a direction that both like, and this work will subsequently be changed. This process is essential for the iterative process, which produces the best results where work is constantly measured against the user need to be solved. Like most creative processes the need for certainty can lead to frustrations for the designer, engineer, and client. However, the best results follow this iterative process. An essential part of making this process work is a great communication framework. Our decades of experience working and honing this type of communication framework has helped us perfect this design process.

Design Process

While UI design is focused on the surface and overall feel of a design, UX encompasses the entire spectrum of the UX. A UI should be aligned with the UX and both should be aligned to the qualitative and quantitative insights derived from the research. The task of implementing a UI is a highly visual one. Decisions are made about where buttons should be closed, colors should be used, and text should appear. UX on the other hand, goes beyond UI and considers the entire product or service holistically. Through our UX design we answer questions about whether product design choices solve a users needs. The UI is an important component of this consideration, and is a significant level that we rely on to make the UX of a product or service successful.

UI Design

User interfaces encompass the aesthetic design of all visual elements of a product’s presentation and interactivity. This design should be highly usable and efficient. At the same time, the user interface (UI) should be an emotional experience – users should feel empowered. Our responsibility is to architect both the aesthetics and the emotional connection. This connection is created effectively when users immerse themselves in the product or service. The less users notice they must use controls, the more they’ll immerse themselves. Ultimately, a user interface should obfuscate itself – it will successfully create the illusion that a user is simply trying to attain their goals as effortlessly as possible, as opposed to interacting with a device.

User interfaces are traditionally made of various controls and components. Input Controls allow uses to add information. These controls can be buttons, text fields, checkboxes, radio buttons, dropdown lists, list boxes, toggles, even a date field. Navigational Components help a user move around the UI. These types of interactions can be breadcrumbs, slider, search field, pagination, slider, tags, and icons. Informational Components equip users to deal with unfamiliar input controls and navigation components and include tooltips, icons, progress bar, notifications, message boxes, and modal window. With so many options for elements, the hardest part of designing a UI is deciding what not to include.

UX Design

UX is the totality of how a user responds to a product or service. It encompases a user’s emotions and attitudes, and how they feel about themselves when using it. Good UX design begins when our UX designer understands fully what the product or service must do and how it will achieve the best results possible. This type of understanding comes from well-designed and executed research. Getting UX right usually means that the experience is smooth and intuitive, and logical. It gives users the sense that they’re efficiently accomplishing the tasks they set out to achieve. Because it’s so hard to get it right, good UX is the ultimate competitive advantage.

UX design is built on a foundation of five main components: Strategy, Scope, Structure, and Skeleton. Each component builds on the previous component. This makes changing components costly. At the same time, as new information is learned in the process flexibility is often necessary to create the right experience. This type of opposing relationship defines the complexities of UX design. During the Strategy component we translate user & business needs to requirements for content & functionality. During the Scoping we define the functional and content requirements. Our Scoping is then given Structure when we define the ways of interaction. During the Skeleton component we begin to conceptualize these interactions. The result of this process is a UX that comes close to the final product or service.

Iterative Design Process

UX and UI design is often an iterative process, which can be challenging. A designer will work with engineers and clients in a direction that both like, and this work will subsequently be changed. This process is essential for the iterative process, which produces the best results where work is constantly measured against the user need to be solved. Like most creative processes the need for certainty can lead to frustrations for the designer, engineer, and client. However, the best results follow this iterative process. An essential part of making this process work is a great communication framework. Our decades of experience working and honing this type of communication framework has helped us perfect this design process.

Microlab Prep designed by RKS

Applications

Our UX and UI research and design teams work closely with our industrial design and engineering teams. Whether we’re creating a new product or service or repurposing an existing one we apply our P/A advanced design thinking framework to the challenges of UX and UI design. As a universal framework, P/A equips us to work across industrial and consumer products and services, both digital and analog. In today’s fast-paced society, the most successful products and services are those that respond directly to user needs and help them accomplish those needs quickly and efficiently. In most cases customers have countless other options, or will have those options as competitors emerge. As a result, our UI and UX designers are challenged daily to draw upon their deep experience to create solutions that stand the test of time.

Digital UX and UI Design

Users are now interacting with most companies through their digital web assets and products. As a result, for many companies built for an analog world, a 3D user experience is being collapsed into a 2D web and app experience. As technology changes exponentially, this 2D web and app experience has become increasingly complex. Devices of different sizes and capabilities are being used with various types of internet connections, and multiple browsers. Changes in accessibility laws for the web and apps means that those with special needs have to be considered in each design choice. In addition to choices like colors, navigability, layout and performance, the base-line digital experience effectively helps users complete their tasks, and integrate into other products and uses they use. We go beyond these foundational requirements to create digital experiences that use quantitative and qualitative insights from our P/A framework to create emotionally immersive experiences that empower users.

Industrial UX UI Design

In many industrial products and services, UX and UI can both be an afterthought. Because in many cases users are not the buyers, lower investments in UI and UX can be rationalized in the short term. However, if efficiency and durability is the goal, UX and UI design should be placed front and center front and center at the beginning of products and service design. At minimum UX and UI design can reduce operational inefficiencies such as workplace injury that affects cycles times and throughput. Because great UX and UI are based in user-centric research it helps users overcome emotional and operational roadblocks, that can help maximize their work and contribute towards the company’s goals. For a manufacturer or producer of industrial products, good UI and UX is the most direct way to create a competitive advantage and uncontested sales channels.

Medical UX UI Design

Professional clinical-grade medical devices must be held to the highest

standards in their performance, accuracy, and usability. In order for those higher standards to be met, the UX of those medical devices must be considered from research, through design, development, and on to manufacturing. We consider all aspects of the product from it’s physical dimensions, technical limitations. at the outset, we’re trained to empathize not only with the end-user, but with the various parties involved with the development of a new medical device. User interfaces are the primary product touchpoints for most devices. Medical devices in particular rely on the simplicity and efficiency of their UIs. The wrong press of a button when using a computer may delete a document, but the wrong press of a button when administering medicine through an infusion pump, may be an overdose. As a result of these human-scale issues for medical devices, simplicity and efficiency are paramount. We consider the UI during all parts of our process, in order to ensure that all stakeholders can understand and utilize the new devices in their most effective and safe manner.

Consumer UX UI Design

UX defines a great consumer product or service, which is instantly familiar to consumers. The UX of consumer products and services must be considered from research, through design, development, and on to manufacturing. A designer should consider all aspects of the product from, it’s physical dimensions, technical limitations. User interface (UI) along with industrial design are the touchpoints for any consumer product or service. Great consumer products and services meet consumer needs, through a simple and efficient UI. We use human-centered design to think through different use cases, consumer reactions, and consumer context to deliver UIs that are simple and efficient. We also follow the four golden rules of UI design; we place users in control of the interface, we make it comfortable to interact with a product, we reduce cognitive load, and we make UIs consistent. We consider the UI throughout, in order to ensure that the industrial design and UI ultimately combine into a compelling UX that tranforms consumers their own “hero”.

Applications

Our UX and UI research and design teams work closely with our industrial design and engineering teams. Whether we’re creating a new product or service or repurposing an existing one we apply our P/A advanced design thinking framework to the challenges of UX and UI design. As a universal framework, P/A equips us to work across industrial and consumer products and services, both digital and analog. In today’s fast-paced society, the most successful products and services are those that respond directly to user needs and help them accomplish those needs quickly and efficiently. In most cases customers have countless other options, or will have those options as competitors emerge. As a result, our UI and UX designers are challenged daily to draw upon their deep experience to create solutions that stand the test of time.

Digital UX and UI Design

Users are now interacting with most companies through their digital web assets and products. As a result, for many companies built for an analog world, a 3D user experience is being collapsed into a 2D web and app experience. As technology changes exponentially, this 2D web and app experience has become increasingly complex. Devices of different sizes and capabilities are being used with various types of internet connections, and multiple browsers. Changes in accessibility laws for the web and apps means that those with special needs have to be considered in each design choice. In addition to choices like colors, navigability, layout and performance, the base-line digital experience effectively helps users complete their tasks, and integrate into other products and uses they use. We go beyond these foundational requirements to create digital experiences that use quantitative and qualitative insights from our P/A framework to create emotionally immersive experiences that empower users.

Industrial UX UI Design

In many industrial products and services, UX and UI can both be an afterthought. Because in many cases users are not the buyers, lower investments in UI and UX can be rationalized in the short term. However, if efficiency and durability is the goal, UX and UI design should be placed front and center front and center at the beginning of products and service design. At minimum UX and UI design can reduce operational inefficiencies such as workplace injury that affects cycles times and throughput. Because great UX and UI are based in user-centric research it helps users overcome emotional and operational roadblocks, that can help maximize their work and contribute towards the company’s goals. For a manufacturer or producer of industrial products, good UI and UX is the most direct way to create a competitive advantage and uncontested sales channels.

Medical UX UI Design

Professional clinical-grade medical devices must be held to the highest standards in their performance, accuracy, and usability. In order for those higher standards to be met, the UX of those medical devices must be considered from research, through design, development, and on to manufacturing. We consider all aspects of the product from it’s physical dimensions, technical limitations. at the outset, we’re trained to empathize not only with the end-user, but with the various parties involved with the development of a new medical device. User interfaces are the primary product touchpoints for most devices. Medical devices in particular rely on the simplicity and efficiency of their UIs. The wrong press of a button when using a computer may delete a document, but the wrong press of a button when administering medicine through an infusion pump, may be an overdose. As a result of these human-scale issues for medical devices, simplicity and efficiency are paramount. We consider the UI during all parts of our process, in order to ensure that all stakeholders can understand and utilize the new devices in their most effective and safe manner.

Consumer UX UI Design

UX defines a great consumer product or service, which is instantly familiar to consumers. The UX of consumer products and services must be considered from research, through design, development, and on to manufacturing. A designer should consider all aspects of the product from, it’s physical dimensions, technical limitations. User interface (UI) along with industrial design are the touchpoints for any consumer product or service. Great consumer products and services meet consumer needs, through a simple and efficient UI. We use human-centered design to think through different use cases, consumer reactions, and consumer context to deliver UIs that are simple and efficient. We also follow the four golden rules of UI design; we place users in control of the interface, we make it comfortable to interact with a product, we reduce cognitive load, and we make UIs consistent. We consider the UI throughout, in order to ensure that the industrial design and UI ultimately combine into a compelling UX that tranforms consumers their own “hero”.